Letters to the editor, Dec. 19

Fences cut off access to kids’ ‘sleigh hill’

The 20th Street Loop hill on Saturday afternoon (Photo by William Oddo)

The 20th Street Loop hill on Saturday afternoon (Photo by William Oddo)

To tenant organizers and local elected representatives,

For the first time in Stuyvesant Town’s history this past weekend, our children were prevented from sleigh riding on the “hill” safely because of the installation of a hideous bent metal fence and posts. The metal fence created an obstacle for kids to safely sleigh ride as they have done after every snow event for generations.

Kids were attempting to sleigh ride and have fun while avoiding the perils of the metal fence and poles. In fact, the higher and more fun hill was just too dangerous so most kids and parents used the adjacent smaller and slower area. To top it off even the Oval was fenced off.

I’m writing to you all because there is no one in management to address or contact concerning this very timely issue.  As many of you know, the “hill” along 20th Street Loop and Oval as it known is the only “sleigh ride hill” within a radius of more than three miles of our community. Without any capital expenditure, or entrance fee or expensive “produced family event” our kids were able to just have fun in the snow.

However, the current management is on a tear to fence off virtually every bit of space no matter how absurd the effect or benefit. Management has fenced off areas so small that the fences themselves comprise more area than the space it protects besides wasting money. It has even included a fenced off access to the Oval lawn Christmas tree (reserved for summer “practically no bathing suit” sunbathing) and a second fence around the new and not ready for prime time “Christmas” tree.

So please use your collective access to see if you can contact anyone in management to “temporarily” remove these “temporary wire fences.” They can be removed quickly and reinstalled later if needed at all.

In all fairness, I understand that leaf control was a partial reasons for metal fence policy. However, the many private park spaces have employed much less costly temporary natural material during late fall season, then removed it later. It has also been reported that fences were installed by management partly in response to complaints from tenants of pets ruining our flower garden areas. Perhaps a discussion could be organized to address these concerns and perceptions and resident pet owners’ concerns and not have our children suffer from a poorly thought out management policy.

What should management (who ever they are) do now? What you could tell them:

• Start by recognizing this longtime community activity and put in place temporary measures to support sleigh riding on the “hill” for our children.
• Remove the wire fence and metal poles.
• Install temporary safe barricades at the curb to protect sleigh riders like redeployed haystacks from Halloween events.
• Create a temporary safe walking path adjacent to the “hill” for other residents.
• Redeploy security personnel from standing inside the skating rink tent and post them outside in advance of the “hill” to protect kids and direct traffic.
• Open up the Oval (early spring is plenty of time to restore grass for sunbathers).

A longstanding community activity like “sleigh riding on the hill” supports an authentic and vital community. As a student of urban planning, community activities like these are a designer’s delight that planners, developers and architects work mightily to create. It’s what current management has failed to recognize here.

Lastly, this management team’s effort to control and watch everything in this community only serves to undermine and ruin their efforts. Worse yet, the world knows a fence, a wall or “security” camera can never contain a genuine human activity. I would be happy to help in this effort and appreciate a tenant organization’s or others’ response.


William Oddo,
Resident, organizer of Stuyvesant Town
Quiet Oval Group 

Mystery of the disappearing flowers

When I walked out on the M level of 271 Avenue C a month ago, I was shocked to see that we lost our beautiful rose garden. The perennial roses, lilacs and flowering spring flowers had been ripped out of the ground and replaced by clumps of ugly short ground cover.

This strikes me as equal to the “scientific” tree pruning that has resulted in our London Plains and Oaks looking like the horror characters in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Sandra Linn, ST

Pols: Sanitation garage plan still incomplete

The following letter was sent by local elected officials on December 11 to Caswell F. Holloway, deputy mayor for operations, and John J. Doherty , commissioner, Department of Sanitation:


We write regarding the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) garage proposed for what is currently the Brookdale Campus of Hunter College, between 25th and 26th Streets and First Avenue and the FDR Drive.

As you are well aware, we have raised a number of serious concerns about this proposal. Over the summer, we joined concerned constituents in giving testimony at the public scoping session for the environmental impact statement. At this public event, we cited objections to several aspects of the proposal, including but not limited to:

1. The absence of a comprehensive plan for the entire site, other than the proposed garage;
2. Potential traffic impacts on surrounding streets, especially introducing additional traffic on 25th Street adjacent to recreational areas at Asser Levy;
3. Public safety impacts by removing the “eyes on the street” benefit currently provided by Hunter College; and
4. Air quality impacts

Given that the timeline shared with us by DSNY does not anticipate the garage becoming operational until 2020 at earliest, we believe it is appropriate to table this proposal until a comprehensive plan for the entire site, and more clarity regarding the many other issues that have been raised, are provided.

Recently, DSNY presented renderings for the garage to the Public Design Commission for preliminary review. While we have no issue with DSNY continuing work on the procedural requirements of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, it is disappointing that in the meantime many of our questions remain unanswered, and that aside from the offer to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding that we believe would be obsolete by the time any work begins, little effort has been made in addressing our concerns.

We appreciate your willingness to work with our offices on this proposal. The questions posed here are critical to its viability and we ask that you answer them as soon as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.


State Senator Brad Hoylman,
Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick
Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh  

3 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Dec. 19

  1. Pingback: Pols ask city to hold off on plans for sanitation garage | Town & Village Blog

  2. Mr. Oddo likes to practice revisionist history because in FACT, sledding was never allowed on the hills of Stuyvesant Town because the proximity to an active street makes it a dangerous activity. Various approaches have been taken by Management throughout the years, most commonly the erecting of wooden snow fences roughly half way up the hill so as to reduce the distance (and thereby speed) traveled by sleds. In the 1950’s and 60’s (when I was of “sled riding age”) we eschewed the puny Stuytown hills and took our sleds on the bus (or subway) up to Central Park, where there are great hills to ride, adjacent to the Model Boat Pond, and next to The Metropolitan Museum, neither one of them ending on a vehicular roadway. Creating an entitlement where one never existed simply is more “bitch, bitch, bitch” from Mr. Oddo over picayune issues when there are much more pressing and important things affecting the tenants here. Or if you prefer, let management open the hills for sledding, and raise your rents $700 mid lease. How about that ?

    • Is “dangerous” really the word you’re gonna use to describe that hill? As a lifelong Stuy Town resident who has lived across from the hill Mr. Oddo is talking about his whole life, I have to say that the 20th street loop is hardly dangerous. I used to go sleigh-riding down that hill all the time when I was younger. It was convenient, fun, and most of all, SAFE. Why was it safe? Because my parents as well as all of the other parents of the kids who were riding down the hill were at the bottom to catch us before we went into the street. We don’t need chains to keep us safe, we don’t need help from the do-nothing “Public Safety” officers, and we certainly don’t need more cranky bitching from old-timers such as yourself. It’s not an “entitlement,” and it’s not a “picayune” issue either. It’s a quality of life concern. Sleigh-riding is fun. No one wants to go all the way up to Central Park every time they want to go sleigh-riding with their kids because frankly it’s out of the way and not necessarily inexpensive ($10 round trip on the Subway for a parent and child) when there’s a perfectly good hill right here in our community. Traditions are important for a neighborhood. Especially wholesome, fun, safe, traditions that everyone can bond over. Mr. Oddo is trying to preserve an element of this community that is loved by so many. All my life, I’ve never known anyone, child or adult, to be involved in some sort of accident on the loop that had to do with kids sleigh-riding down the hill (or any other type of accident for that matter). Are we really going to allow the tiny, infinitely small chance that some sort of accident would happen stop kids from simply having a good time? Mr. Oddo is trying to ensure that kids in this community grow up loving their home the same way I did. As you said “there are much more pressing and important things affecting the tennants here?”

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